Rafale Verdict Is In Public Domain Except Some ‘Sensitive Portions’

Rafale Verdict has been ousted by the supreme court for the masses’ perusal and is right now lying at the parliament’s table. Some portions of the verdict have been hid on account of sensitivity of the content.

The Supreme Court underscored that the CAG report on the deal “has been examined by the Public Accounts Committee” and that “a redacted (parts edited out after being judged sensitive) portion of the report was placed before Parliament and is in public domain.”

Given that there is no CAG report so far and, therefore, nothing has been sent to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Government, in its application, asked the court to correct this. It told the court that all it had submitted in sealed cover on the subject was a statement of the process. That the report of the CAG is examined by the PAC and “only a redacted version of the report is placed before the Parliament and in public domain”.

Several experts and retired officials of CAG and Parliament have raised questions over this claim, arguing that there is only one CAG report — there is no example of any “redacted version” being placed in the public domain.

“There is no provision for any redaction of a CAG report, nor is there a precedent. There is no such thing under the law, under the Constitution,” former Secretary General of Lok Sabha P D T Achary expressed to media.

“I have never heard the term (redaction) before. There is only one CAG report which is prepared after due diligence by the auditors, vetted by Deputy CAG and approved personally by the CAG. Once it is presented to Parliament, it is a public document,” said former Deputy CAG, Dr B P Mathur.

“The Constitution states that the reports of CAG shall be laid before each House of Parliament. The Lok Sabha rules of procedure specify that all papers and documents laid on the table shall be considered public,” said Chakshu Roy of PRS Legislative Research.

Which details are sensitive and need to be masked is decided by consultation between the government and the CAG before the draft report. Said the recently retired CAG: “Either the requirement can come from the government or the same can be decided by the CAG. For example, the government asked that the data about Air Defence of Army be not made public. There are two to three such reports every year with some masked portions”.